No. 18 Cal To Face No. 15 Denver in NCAA First Round Game Friday

Nov. 11, 2002

BERKELEY - The 18th-ranked California women's soccer team (Soccer America) earned its 11th playoff selection, including a school record fifth straight overall, Monday afternoon when the 64-team NCAA College Cup field was announced on ESPNEWS. The Golden Bears watched the selection show at the Club Room at Haas Pavilion, along with friends of the program and athletic department administration.

Cal (11-7-1, 4-5 Pac-10) faces 15th-ranked Denver (17-1-2, 8-0 Sun Belt) Friday in the opening round in a four-team regional hosted by top-ranked Stanford. The No. 1-seeded Cardinal (18-1, 9-0 Pac-10) entertain Cal Poly (14-6, 8-1 Big West) in the other game. The winners of Friday's games play each other Sunday. Game times will be announced later today.

'The draw is exactly what I thought it would be,' said Cal head coach Kevin Boyd. 'I figured we'd match up with Denver because last year they flew Denver out (to Stanford), so that wasn't unprecedented. I figured that Cal Poly, the Big West winner, traditionally comes to the Bay Area anyway. So, them playing the No. 1 team in the country isn't a huge surprise. We were in Stanford's bracket last year. I know they try to avoid teams in the same conference being a first round match-up.

'No matter what people are going to look at the draw and say you're matched up with the No. 1 team in the country in the second round, if we can get to the second round. Our main goal is to win the first game, which we have struggled with in the past. We need to win that first game, and then I don't think I would bet against us against anybody out there. We got a goal (against Stanford) the first time and made it quite a game. I think we can make it a better game the next time.'

Cal is 6-6 against teams selected to this year's College Cup with wins coming against defending national champion Santa Clara, Texas A&M, Wake Forest, Purdue, Ohio State and Arizona State. The Bears' best NCAA Tournament performances were fifth place in both 1983 and 1986 and Final Four appearances in 1984, '87 and '88.

Boyd, the winningest coach in Cal women's soccer history at 77-39-6, has now led the Bears to the playoffs in five of his six years at the helm of the program. Cal lost to Saint Mary's 3-2 in the opening round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament and are in search of its first playoff win since 1988 when it defeated Colorado College, 2-1 in overtime, in the quarterfinals.

In 2002, Cal has five players with double figure points with freshman forward Tracy Hamm leading the way with 18 points from nine goals. Senior forward Laura Schott and freshman forward Dania Cabello are tied for second with 16 points. Senior midfielders Carly Fuller and Brittany Kirk have 12 and 10 points, respectively.

'It's really exciting,' said Kirk, a co-captain. 'We're focusing on Friday. We think we're the better team, so hopefully we'll come out on top. Possibly playing Stanford on Sunday is really exciting because we felt like we played them even the last time. It would be great to get another chance at them.'

The Pac-10 earned six bids to the NCAA Tournament - Stanford, UCLA, Washington State, USC, Cal and Arizona State. The College Cup concludes Dec. 6 and 8 in Austin, Texas, at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas with the semifinals and championship game.

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